April 17, 2013
AZUSA, Calif. -- Dorcas Akinniyi can say she went out on top. For now, that is.
After posting strong performances on the first day of the two-day competition, Wisconsin's heptathletes are off to a solid start at the elite Mt. SAC Relays/ California Invitational Combined Events in Azusa, Calif.
Akinniyi and junior Deanna Latham made their season debut in the heptathlon on Wednesday, and - at least in Latham's case -- positioned themselves well for the final day of competition on Thursday.
Despite holding the overall lead through three events by amassing 2,674 points, Akinniyi elected not to run the final event of the first day -- the 200 meters -- and retired from the competition as she and assistant coach Nate Davis had planned.
Latham, meanwhile, is just getting started. She stands third after the first four events of the seven-discipline competition with a score of 3,334. Azusa Pacific senior Breanna Leslie holds the lead with a first-day score of 3,440 points.
Strong runs bookended Latham's day. She ran to a second-place finish with a career-best time of 13.62 seconds in the 100 hurdles to open the day. Akinniyi took eighth in the event, clocking in with a time of 14.11.
Latham closed out the day with a ninth-place finish in the 200 meters in a wind-aided time of 24.84.
In between, Akinniyi shined in the high jump, out-jumping the rest of the field with a mark of 5 feet, 9 3/4 inches to post the day's best mark. Latham took ninth in the event with a clearance of 5-2 1/2.
Akinniyi followed up her win in the high jump with an impressive performance in the shot put. She finished third in the event behind a throw of 43-5 1/4, while Latham placed seventh with a mark of 40-0 3/4.
In the California Invitational section of the heptathlon, redshirt freshman Yolanda Hayes-Barnes represented the Badgers and competed alongside a future teammate in Georgia Ellenwood.
In her first heptathlon as a Badger, Hayes-Barnes stands 28th after the first day of competition. She finished the 100 hurdles in 15.84, cleared 4-10 1/2 in the high jump, threw 33-2 in the shot put and closed the day with a run of 26.60 in the 200 meters.
Ellenwood, who will join the Badgers next fall and is Canada's top-ranked junior in the heptathlon, posted two top-five finishes and is sixth after Day 1 with a total of 3,186 points. She placed third in the high jump with a mark of 5-8 and took fifth place in the 200 meters with a time of 25.47.
Additionally, Ellenwood recorded a 17th-place finish in the 100 meters (14.93) and threw for 11th place in the shot put (36-4 1/4).
The last three events of the seven-discipline heptathlon -- the long jump, javelin and 800 meters -- are on tap when competition resumes at noon Thursday at Azusa Pacific's Cougar Athletic Stadium.